“A man paints with his brains, not with his hands.”, Michaelangelo

It’s often said that the artist Michelangelo was a genius.

If his art is so impressive, it’s because he had an artistic approach that was, above all, scientific and pragmatic.

To better learn how to draw, let’s see how was Michaelangelo creative process.

Michelangelo was fascinated by the study of anatomy. To draw a body, he didn’t sketch just the visible muscles, but strove to understand all the muscles and all their various shapes and interconnections. His goal was to understand the invisible in order to perfectly comprehend the visible.*

These precious qualities of mental analysis were translated into his sculptural and architectural projects. The more Michelangelo perfected this technique, the more his artistic ability began to appear unlimited.

*To this end, he was making human dissections by the age of 18.

A man paints with his brains, not with his hands.” – Michelangelo

Artists are often told that to make progress they must practice constantly. True, BUT “practice for practice’s sake” doesn’t suffice.

By drawing with the sole goal of having practiced and getting it done with, you won’t notice any mistakes or repeating errors you’re making.

Additionally, you risk not progressing at all, or only doing so very slightly. This is a step that causes some people to abandon art, claiming a lack of talent.

Try to always ANALYZE*, not simply copy what you see.
In doing so you can make great strides in a
short time.

*Sure, but analyze what? I’ll list the types of things you’ll be looking for one by one in an upcoming tutorial, and you’ll see that each element, once isolated, isn’t that complicated at all. It’s often a matter of geometry and a sense of space.

Assimilate the fundamentals so that they become a part of you, and become such an ingrained reflex that you don’t have to worry about them. You’ll develop a sort of 6th sense, a reliable intuition.


As in chess, you naturally develop strategies faster over time, gradually thinking more and more moves ahead in order to reach your goals.

With proper practice, your drawings will become lighter and less clogged with the need for lots of construction lines. You’ll spend less time considering your artistic plan of attack, and gain more clarity from less planning.

The brain has the capacity to analyze information extremely quickly. Your hand cannot physically keep up with the brain’s thoughts. Even before you’ve finished drawing one line, or even put your pen tip to paper, your brain already knows how to finish that line and move on to the next.

Try not to draw like this:
Make a line > (pause to think) > line > (pause to think) > line > (pause to think)….

Unless you’re already drawing with a specific strategy in mind, try it like this:
(Pause and think) > line > line > line > line > (pause to think) > line > line > line > line…

Eventually, your technique for thinking while drawing will be practically effortless. Your brainpower will be available instead to focus on your creativity.

You may take some liberties in your drawings. You’ll make errors both consciously and unconsciously, and maybe the drawing won’t be perfect. But you’ll get a result that you can work with.

That’s when you can congratulate yourself on your progress!

And, as a bonus, you’ll also feel stronger artistically, and ready to take on new challenges.
If you too find it incredibly fun to analyze and create art, tell me about it in the comments!


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  • Great article, very interesting and motivational. Thanks for the tips, will surely analyze what´s wrong in my sketches, isolate those mistakes, try to not repeat them, practice, analyze again, practice, in order to progress.



    Roger Santos

  • Hi Chou,

    Thanks for the great post, I have only just discovered this awesome site, thanks for putting the time and effort in sharing your knowledge and works 🙂

    I have been a designer for the past few years, and I think I have gradually let my hand take over my head. I have been applying the ideas from this post into my work over the past couple of days and I am already beginning to notice a good difference.



    • Hi Matt,

      In 2 days, you already get positive results.
      That’s great, and for me a real pleasure to know.

      The blog was launched a month ago only. Let’s see how we guys improve along the journey.

      Thanks Matt for your feedback.